Paper on Research Methodology Published

ECRM20 Conference Proceedings

In June 2020 I attended the 19th European Conference on Research Methodology for Business and Management Studies ECRM 2020 hosted by the University of Aveiro in Portugal. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the conference was held in a remote format and presented my paper called “An Observational Analysis of the Entrepreneurship Policy Discourse in Hamburg, Germany” via ZOOM and was awarded a Certificate of Merit for this work.


Entrepreneurship, specifically startups and their alleged innovative high-growth potential, is commonly connected to job creation and economic growth in public policy discourse, although this link is widely debated in academia. Therefore, the creation process of related policy agendas needs to be better analysed. The author is conducting research to uncover how entrepreneurship policy stakeholders in Hamburg, Germany, feed a self-perpetuating discourse of domination based on sociotechnical imaginaries. Preliminary findings (Recke 2019) have shown how these imaginaries in Hamburg’s policy discourse seem disconnected from reality. This paper will introduce the interdisciplinary methodology of the study, which contributes to academic literature as an innovative research approach with an interpretivism perspective and constructionism epistemology. The qualitative study’s general approach is a combination of critical discourse analysis and covert observations. Critical discourse analysis was deemed particularly suitable for policy analysis and builds on theories of Foucault to analyse the relationship of language to social processes and inherent power relations to uncover proclaimed “truths” and inherent belief systems as a product of the discourse and its power dynamics. To trace these structures back to their manifestation in the entrepreneurship policy ecosystem in Hamburg, Bourdieu’s social theory is utilised to identify how the discourse creates legitimacy for social distinction and hierarchy with theoretical concepts of capitals, fields and habitus. The research is largely building on covert observations as a complementary component to document analysis to execute the critical discourse analysis. These ethnographic observations within the field of the regional entrepreneurship policy ecosystem enable the author to investigate the discourse’s power dynamics in wider social structures and apart from publicly available textual documents to triangulate critical findings. Most innovation and entrepreneurship policy studies focus only on policy effectiveness or implementation failure, while little is known about the formulation phase of public policy. Unmasking the discourse among policy stakeholders in Hamburg would provide a major contribution towards a better understanding of entrepreneurship policy formulation and might reveal new insights into reasons for entrepreneurship policy ineffectiveness.

The paper is connected to previous publications about the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Sydney Australia and associated public policy agenda as well as media/IT cluster initiatives and the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Hamburg, Germany and the regional public policy agenda towards innovation and entrepreneurship. Since 2017 I am working on an extended research project for my PhD in collaboration with University of West Scotland (UWS), focussing on the entrepreneurship policy discourse in Hamburg and inherent sociotechnical imaginaries.

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